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Aigai: A city in the mountains of Aeolis. History and coinage.

July 31, 2018

The ruins of the ancient Aeolian city of Aigai (Aegae in Latin) are located half a dozen kilometers from the small Turkish village of Yuntdağıköseler, on the summit of a rocky mountainous area known in antiquity as "the Mountain of the Sun."

 

Photo 1.- The City-Wall of Aigai. Second half of the seventh century BC.

 

Aigai is mentioned by Herodotus and Strabo as one of the twelve largest cities founded by the Aeolian colonists. Although its legendary foundation dates from around 1100 BC, archaeological excavations have not found any vestige prior to the 8th century BC. Its location in a mountainous area, somewhat isolated from the coast where the rest of the Aeolian cities were raised (with the exception of Temnos), was emphasized by the ancient writers, being considered the reason why Aigai never reached a degree of development comparable to that of coastal cities.

 

Photo 2.- The magnificent exterior wall of the Aigai public market seen from its inside. Mid 2nd century BC.

 

During the first half of the sixth century BC Aigai was part of the extended kingdom of Lydia. Destroyed this one by the Achaemenids Persians in 546 BC, Aigai manages to resist the subsequent Persian onslaught and to maintain its independence, a success attributable both to its rugged location, difficult to capture, and to its relative